The Atheist Foundation of Australia Committee would like to thank for your support. We also like to update you of two of our important and successful achievements in the last two years.
In 2021, we took a leading role in association with six other free-thought organisations to create the ‘Census No Religion’ campaign. As the name suggests, the purpose of the campaign was to encourage people to think seriously about their religious beliefs and mark ‘No Religion’ during the Australian Census.
The campaign participants created various slogans, images, videos, and other media, including featured videos by Adam Spencer, Andrew Denton, Tim Minchin, and a cast of young atheists. We created various stills with slogans. These all gave reasons for, and highlighted the reasons why Australians should mark ‘No Religion’ on the census form.
The results exceeded all of our expectations. People answering ‘No Religion’ (inclusive of atheism, agnosticism etc) went from 30.1 % in 2016 to 38.9 % in 2021. This represents a 29.2% increase in the ‘No Religion’ category!
The table below shows that the total of all versions of Christianity contracted by over a million people whilst ‘No Religion’ increased by almost three million!
Our campaign was pilloried by the Murdoch press, particularly three of Murdoch’s News Corporation hosts on Sky. The Sky hosts told their viewers that we were well organised and financed. And yet our overall spend was about $50,000. In most political campaigns this would be a mere drop in the ocean. Other news outlets and channels highlighted our campaign either in a neutral or positive way. What was a small expenditure on advertising was magnified greatly and we can only imagine what might have been achieved if the campaign had more resources at its disposal.
On the current trajectory, the ‘No Religion’ category should overtake Christianity by mid-2023 as can be seen in the graph below.
Our other great success was the withdrawal by the Morrison government of the odious Religious Discrimination Bill (RDB).
Despite its name, the purpose of the bill, as we saw it, was to empower religions to be able to discriminate against people of minority religions, other religions, differing sects within their own religion, and of course against people of no religion. It would have given religious schools, hospitals, aged care facilities, and others, the right to terminate the employment of people on the basis of their religion, degree of religiosity, or absence of religion. Such laws do not protect equality, but privilege, empower, and protect the religious and their ability to discriminate against others.
With a great deal of effort (and with many like minds in the community and the parliament) the RDB was killed off before the Federal election. Thankfully our Pentecostal Prime Minister was defeated in the last election, and our hope is that no version of this bill ever sees the light of day again.
Of course, vigilance is still required. We have to ensure that the march toward ‘No Religion’ continues and that religious privilege is countered:
- We have to ensure that Government bills regarding religion do not advantage religions at the expense of those others.
- We need to encourage and facilitate the removal of religious chaplains from secular government schools.
- We need to encourage and facilitate the removal of scripture classes from secular government schools.
- We need to protect LGBTQI people from religious bigotry and discrimination
- We need to protect the rights of women to choose if and when they have children, without religiously motivated objections
- We need to ensure those who are suffering terminal illnesses can choose to end their lives in peace and without pain
- We need to prepare campaigns in readiness for the next census in 2026, as what we can be assured of, is that the religions will fight tooth and nail to beat the irreligious into administrative and financial submission. They will seek, as they have done in the past, to make governments submissive to their agendas.
- And more…
Whilst the Pentecostal Prime Minister has been deposed, we need to be wary that within the new Government there are some very religious people. If given the chance, they will follow their religious beliefs, or do the bidding of religious institutions. The new government has to be reminded that the number of religious followers is diminishing, and it would be unwise to ignore the views of the non-religious.
So there is still so much more to do.
It is not for us to self-congratulate ourselves in the mirrors of our minds. We must collectively be conscious and proactive in how we look to the future.
So, we thank you for being members of the AFA and hope that you continue to support us in our endeavours. We hope that you will find others to join us in our future efforts.